OverviewMischabel Group of the Pennine Alps. Together with its subpeak Chli Dirruhorn (3890 m) it forms the northern end of the Nadelgrat ridge. The name was probably derived from the Valais dialect for "Dirrufad" (german: Dürrer Pfad, english: dry path), a dry south-facing mountain meadow below the Dirruhorn.
The massive ridge crest of the Nadelgrat shapes the SSE and N ridges of the Dirruhorn. These ridges offer the usual and easiest access to the summit. The SSE ridge descents to the Dirrujoch (3912 m), the col between Dirruhorn and Hohbärghorn. The N ridge connects the Dirruhorn to its subpeak Chli Dirruhorn and leads from there as NNW ridge down to the Galenjoch (3303 m), the col between Dirruhorn and Guggla. The SW ridge is the third distinctive ridge of the Dirruhorn, but without great alpine interest.
Between the main and subpeak lies a snow saddle called Selle (3859 m).
This first ascent was made on September 7th 1879 by Albert-Frederick Mummery and William Penhall with the guides Alexander Burgener and Ferdinand Imseng. The party used the E couloir of the Selle to gain the N ridge of Dirruhorn and descended along the SSW flank.
The Dirruhorn primarily offers brittle rock – on the ridges as well as faces – and several routes through the faces or couloirs are exposed to serious rockfall. This fact as well as the length of the routes are reasons that the Dirruhorn isn't climbed often. Technically the routes afford moderate difficulties (PD to AD+).
While on the classic Nadelgrat Traverse the Dürrenhorn is crossed from Galenjoch to Dirrujoch or vice versa, many parties use the NE couloir of Dirrujoch (or its right side) as an alternative to gain or descend the Nadelgrat. This option is no longer recommended due to heavy rockfall in the couloir. Mountain rescue and hut wardens advise the safer classic ascent via Galenjoch and the NNW ridge. Since early summer 2010 the lower parts of this route are marked by several reflectors.
Getting ThereMischabel Hut (3335 m).
The approach to the Bordier Hut is made from Gasenried (1659 m) or Grächen (1619 m), both in the Mattertal Valley above St. Niklaus, and takes 4 – 4½ hours.
St. Niklaus has a train station on the Visp – Zermatt line. Trains run regularly from Zermatt and Visp/Brig in the Rhône Valley. From St. Niklaus a bus connection to Grächen (bus stop "Post") and Gasenried (bus stop "Post") exists.
Limited parking lots in Grächen and Gasenried.
The Mischabel Hut can be reached from Saas Fee (1800 m) in the Saastal Valley in 4 – 5 hours.
Saas Fee is reached by train from Visp/Brig to Stalden and by bus from thereon.
Parking possibilities at the parking garage Saas Fee or the parking lot Saas Grund, both against payment.
PD II. ½ hour from Dirrujoch. 4½ hours from Bordier Hut.
Easy, straightforward rock ridge. Stay close to the ridge. Part of the Nadelgrat Traverse.
People often chosen to return to Dirrujoch to rappel the NE couloir to the Ried glacier - not recommended anymore due to heavy rockfall. Instead descend along the N ridge.
AD- III+. 1 hour from Chli Dirruhorn. 3 hours from Galenjoch. 5½ – 6½ hours from Bordier Hut.
Long, but moderate ridge. Part of the classic Nadelgrat Traverse. Safest way to and off the Dirruhorn.
From the Galenjoch follow more or less the ridge line. Some parts can be bypassed carefully in the W flank. Very brittle rock beside the ridge. Until the Chli Dirruhorn rated II, some parts II+.
From this subpeak to the main summit stay close to the ridge, rated II – III-. Halfway a spike is climbed or crossed along a slab with cracks (III+).
NE couloir to Dirrujoch
AD+. 3¾ hours from Bordier Hut or 3 – 4 hours from Mischabel Hut.
The couloir is reached from Bordier Hut along the Ried glacier (2¾ hrs) or from Mischabel Hut by traversing the Windjoch and the Ried glacier (2 – 3 hrs). During early summer you can follow the snow couloir directly to the col. A rappel track is coming down from the Dirrujoch by the rocks on the right side of the couloir. Use these poles for pretecting the ascent. From Dirrujoch follow the SSE ridge to the summit.
This route has been place of several accidents on account of brittle rock and heavy rockfall. Mountain rescue and hut wardens instead recommend the the N ridge as ascent/descent route.
E couloir to Selle
AD+. 3½ – 4 hours from Bordier Hut.
Way of the first ascenders. Approach same as to the E couloir of Dirrujoch. During early summer follow the couloir directly to the saddle. Otherwise bypass it using the rocks on the side. These rocks are brittle but not that difficile.
This route was used as alternative to the NE couloir of the Dirrujoch, but also has been place of several accidents on account of brittle rock and heavy rockfall. Mountain rescue and hut wardens instead recommend the the N ridge as ascent/descent route.
There exists several other routes, most of them across the flanks. These routes were used during development of alpinism, especially for descent. Nowadays none of them is of interest for mountaineering, but all of them are exposed to serious rockfall.
SW ridge: AD-. Very long, complicated and monotonous route.
SSW flank: AD-. Convenient descent. Also used by the first ascenders. From the Dirrugrat ridge to the nameless glacier below Dirrujoch to reach the SSW flank.
W flank: AD. Brittle. From the Dirru glacier along snow couloirs and rock rips to the summit.
ENE flank: AD+. Difficile slabs and couloirs, brittle rock and heavy rockfall. Not recommended!
Selle W flank: AD. Follow the rocks on the right side of a snow couloir. Also rockfall from the ridge.
Chli Dirruhorn ENE flank: AD. Along the rocks on the right side of the E couloir to the saddle.
Chli Dirruhorn W flank: AD. From the Dirru glacier more or less direct to the summit.
Dirrujoch SW flank: AD. From the Dom Hut across the Festijoch and Hohbärg glacier to the W spur of the Hohbärghorn. Along a snow couloir and ledge to the nameless glacier below the Dirrujoch. Directly to the col. This route can be an option to reach the Nadelgrat ridge from the Dom Hut.
Huts & CampingThe Dirruhorn and Nadelgrat Ridge are usually accessed from either the Bordier Hut (2886 m) or Mischabel Hut (3335 m).
Camping is not allowed, but can be tolerated if you maintain a certain distance to the huts. At the Bordier Hut a possible site would be 150 m S/SE of the hut, on the way to the moraine of the Gross Bigerhorn.
Additional InformationAlpinführer Walliser Alpen 4/5
Guide book by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), formerly known as SAC-Clubführer. Describes alpine routes and climbs between the Theodul Pass and Simplon. Covers all routes on the Dirruhorn.
Banzhaf/Biner/Burgener. Publication year 2009. ISBN 978-3-85902-290-4.
Price: CHF 54,- / € 36,-
Link: SAC Online Shop
Hochtouren im Wallis
Guide book by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC). This book offers a choice of alpine tours and climbs across the Pennine Alps. For the Dirruhorn only the Nadelgrat Traverse is described here, but still with the ascent along the NE couloir of the Dirruhorn.
Hermann Biner. Publication year 2002. ISBN 978-3-85902-204-1.
Price: CHF 58,- / € 36,-
Link: SAC Online Shop
Walliser Alpen - Gebietsführer
Guide book known as AV-Führer (German/Austrian Alpine Clubs DAV/ÖAV). Describes alpine tours and climbs in the Pennine Alps.
Michael Waeber. Publication year 2003. Reissue march 2011. ISBN 978-3-7633-2416-3.
Price: € 22,90 / CHF 39,90
Schweizer Landeskarte Blatt 1328 Randa
Map scaled 1:25,000 by the Swiss Federal Office of Topography.
Publication year 2003. ISBN 978-3-3020-1328-2.
Price: CHF 14,- / € 11,90
Link: SAC Online Shop
External Links4000er.de Dürrenhorn
Some information, trip reports and photos of 4000ers in the alps.
Free online version of the Schweizer Landeskarten maps.
Information about mountain conditions in the Alps.
Weather forecast for Switzerland by the Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology.